Thursday, April 21, 2011

My experience being onshore

Last year I was assigned onshore (Florida) by my company. I can say that it was one of those best experiences that I wouldn't want to repeat (well, that's a little exaggerated ;). Best because I really learned A LOT of stuff in those 3 months. In terms of experience, nothing can beat being onshore. You practice speaking in english, learn how to deal with clients, and be exposed to a totally different culture and environment. The first 2 months was quite fun, since everything was new for me. I was curious about everything. Maybe think about when you're still learning how to program. Everything is really abundant there, especially if you have the money to spend. I usually find myself browsing Amazon for my next gadget to buy (thanks Amazon Prime!). At some point, we were being materialistic to overcome the sadness of being away from home.

My experience there is a little different because we did not have our own car. We had to get a cab even just to buy some groceries. That is a big deal if you are in Florida, since almost nothing is walking distance. One good thing though is our hotel is near the office so we don't have to commute -- but for everything else, it's a cab ride. Since our budget is limited, we didn't go out as much, so most of the time we're in the hotel watching TV or browsing the web. I guess this is where things get sad - feeling very far away from your home country, feeling alienated because you're not a citizen of that country. By the 3rd month we were all eager to go back, everyday seems the same and we counted days. This is also the time when I reflected on a lot of things that otherwise I wouldn't think of when I'm here in the Philippines. Being away from your comfort zone opens up your mind. I missed the Philippines so much. I missed how I just called up my friends and meet up in a whim. I missed how my family is always around. That time I decided that when I get back home, I'll be more open to meeting new friends, and spending more time with everyone. I'll be traveling to all the beautiful places in our country whenever I can. These are things you won't realize unless it's taken away from you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Notes on co-workers – a humbling experience

This was something I wrote a year ago when I just started on a new job.

One of the things that came with my apartment is my new job. Actually it’s one big reason why I chose to live independently since I will be able to afford the rent and bills. In this post I will write about my experience with our just finished company outing.

I didn’t expect it to be such a good experience and we were supposed to back out since most of our team mates did not join. Well nothing really special about it, aside from the great resort where it was held. It was the usual company outing – maybe more boring than usual. But what made it different is that I met a lot of great people and learned so much from their experiences.

This is my first time working for a big consulting company. It certainly has a lot of downsides working in big companies, one thing I immediately noticed is I felt just like a cog in a machine. Looking at the brighter side, I kinda felt like a stereotype salaryman: good salary, own apartment, living in the city. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, at least it’s something new for me.

One thing I’m guilty of when it comes to jobs and companies is I’m quick to judge a person based on how he/she looks or acts. A lot of people are guilty of that. But I’m kinda defensive in a way that I will have no interest on getting to know about the person if I don’t like his aura. That certainly changed after our company outing. At first it was awkward since in the whole company, I only know my team mate. It’s hard to get to know everyone since we are working on different projects. But in this outing we had the chance to talk to our co-workers.

People who are a lot older and more senior than me. People who look strong and aggressive. People who can express themselves really well. Before, I usually judged people like this since I feel we’re very different and we won’t get along. But when I got a chance to talk to a lot of them, I found out that they’re actually geeks like me. We’re all IT people anyway, and we’ve had similar experiences in the same company (or our previous jobs). Whew, I didn’t think you can find a lot of great people in a company. I felt really humbled, and I feel this is one advantage of working in a big (and maybe selective) company, there are a lot of quality people and there are little egos.

I heard before from a good senator that you should not quickly judge a person, because once you accept that he is that way, than that will be the reality for you (something like that). In a way you are already closing your mind without getting pass what’s superficial. A lot of us are like that, and I think it is partially because of our own insecurities. It doesn’t hurt to try to get to know someone, so try (and win a friend).

Fix Damaged SD Card error on Android

I often get this error on my Android phone since I got a class 2 16gb SD card. It might be that this SD card is faulty my phone just doesn't work well with this specific card. But anyway, it still works! Before, whenever I get the "Damaged SD Card" error I copy all my SD card files to my PC, then format the SD card and copy it back. This works, but it takes a lot of time especially if you have a large SD card. Another easier way I found is use the "Check Disk" function of Windows 7 (I'm not sure about previous Windows versions). Follow this guide:
  • Mount your SD card using an SD card reader
  • Right click on the drive, select properties
  • Go to Tools tab, under Error-checking, click Check now
  • On Check disk options, check both "Automatically fix file system errors" and "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors"
  • Click Start!
This still takes some time but it's a lot faster than reformatting the SD card. When it's done checking (and fixing), put back your SD card to your Android phone. Hopefully this fixes it!

Fix Winamp Sync Problem on Android

I've been battling with what Media Player to use on Android (too bad iTunes is out of the equation). I've tried Winamp and DoubleTwist -- overall Winamp wins. Winamp is faster, has more features, and more mature. Importing my iTunes library was a breeze. I only had one problem, some files won't sync properly. I found out that to fix this issue is simple but requires some manual work. It has something to do with the files' meta info; either it has no meta info, it has blank values, or it has inconsistent values (ID3v1 and ID3v2).

Simplest way to fix it is use auto tag. On Winamp, select files you want to fix -> right click -> send to -> Auto-Tag. Wait for all items to be queried (click Check All or manually check each file if the status is 'Unsure'). Then click 'Apply Changes' to update the track info for the selected files.

Another way to fix meta info is check if ID3V1 or ID3V2 is more updated. For example if ID3v2 is more updated on a file, right click -> View file info -> ID3v2 (tab) -> click 'Copy to ID3v1'. This should make the meta info consistent.